I am a local television reporter.
I never traveled to Afghanistan. I didn’t cover the war in Iraq. I work for CBS in Denver, Colorado. To foreign network correspondents, that might seem dull. But they haven’t covered a mass school shooting in a suburb. They haven’t been awakened at two a.m. to dash off to a mass shooting at a movie theater.
I opted for a career covering my community. I wanted a balance of family life and journalism. At some point, in my twenties, I decided to abandon network glamour for community involvement.
But no one told me I’d be interviewing parents who lost their children because they went to school at one day. No one warned me that the deaths of young people would come, not in a war zone, but in a suburban movie theater.
I never envisioned that not once, but twice, in my career, I would have parents come up to me frantic and fearful, begging for news of their children, only to tell them I had no news to share. Their children, first at Columbine High School, and now at Theater Nine in Aurora, were dead.
Somehow, in my journalism classes at Stanford, no professors warned me that I would have to report on live TV while fighting tears. My journalism classes didn’t teach me how to act composed when fear and heartbreak were my prevailing emotions. Somehow my study in journalism didn’t prepare me for the emotional eavesdropping I do during the worst moment in a parent’s life.
I wish I could be detached from the 23-year-old whose memorial I covered last week after she was gunned down watching a Batman movie. I can’t. I have a 23-year-old of my own.
Denver, Colorado is a nice place to live. We have mountains, few mosquitoes, and a pleasant climate. Why do we keep having mass shootings? Why are our teens gunned down at the most innocent of venues?
My job is to ask questions. I wish someone would occasionally have a definitive answer.
Suzanne McCarroll has worked at CBS4 for 30 years.